FourFourTwo picks out the biggest winners and losers from Round 3 of the S.League...
- Atsushi Kawata - FourFourTwo's Player of the Round
Where do you start? Albirex finally appear in our winners column after two consecutive appearances in the chumps' corner, and deservedly so after their 6-0 beatdown of Warriors FC. The defending champions were humbled at home to a team that had failed to win... nay a team that had failed to even score a goal after two S.League rounds. Then they put six goals past the unbeaten Warriors in Round 3. Go figure.
There must have been something in the water in Jurong this week for the White Swans came roaring out of the blocks, led by red-hot winger Atsushi Kawata. Everything the Hannan University product touched turned to gold in the first half, as Albirex racked up a 4-0 halftime lead.
The 23-year-old's cross was first turned into the Warriors' net by an unfortunate Syaqir Sulaiman, before he then beat rookie goalkeeper Nur Amin Malik with two long range finishes. Kawata's second on the night was an absolute peach of a wind assisted shot, as he left Marin Vidosevic in his wake after a quick turn before launching a curling shot that drifted from left to right and into the top corner.
- Ken Ilsø Larsen
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Home United's Ken Ilsø might have just taken that lesson to heart after scoring in each of his first two games, but failing to pick up the win. This time round, the Danish forward's opener once again was followed up not by an equaliser, but by an assist for teammate Sirina Camara to score a second and final goal.
Friday's goal made it three from three games for Ilsø, and he remains the only player to have scored in every round of the S.League so far this season. If the former Dusseldorf striker continues in this vein, he might just end up with 27 goals come the end of the season!
- Anyone who missed the Geylang – Hougang match
If you weren't at Bedok Stadium on Thursday, you can thank your lucky stars. The match between the Eagles and the Cheetahs was an early contender for the worst game of the season, with both teams struggling to string five passes together all game.
Almost every shot seemed to be long range efforts that cleared the crossbars handily, as this veritable snoozefest ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
"It was one of the most uninspiring matches I've ever watched," said FFT's man in the stands. "All I could think about was that I'd rather be having some of the famous Bedok 85 noodles for supper."
- V. Sundramoorthy
You've got to feel for the coach. After two narrow wins to start the season, Tampines finally came unstuck against the Protectors for Sundram's first loss since his return to the S.League. It didn't help that both his foreign strikers were injured as Mateo Roskam and Fabrice Noel failed to make the matchday squad.
With the Stags staring down the barrel of defeat after Ilsø's opener, fate dealt insult to injury as Sundram was taken out by his own player in the second half. Innocently standing within his technical area, the Tampines coach was sent flying as right back Jufri Taha ploughed feet-first into him after missing a tackle on Sirina Camara. Ouch!
Luckily enough, the Dazzler managed to retain his dignity, getting to his feet again as if nothing had happened and proceeding to see out the remainder of the game.
- Warriors FC
Where to from here? We've already gone through the circumstances of their shock defeat on Saturday night, so this nomination doesn't come as a surprise.
A loss would have been one thing, but the scoreline suggests something is wrong with the defence this season after errors during recent AFC Cup matches. Neezam Aziz's early injury might have unsettled the team, but it does not excuse the shoddy defending for most of the game, as Albirex's forwards took potshots at every opportunity they got.
Losing the likes of Hassan Sunny, Ismail Yunos and Zufadli Zainal Abidin appear to have weakened the champions to a considerable degree, and the challenge now will be to not only recover from this crushing defeat but to find some way to paper over the defensive cracks. Daniel Bennett is not getting any younger, so the onus will be on prospects like Nur Asyidiq, Emmeric Ong and Syaqir Sulaiman to step up and be counted.